Hello Everyone! It has been a while since I have been able to jump on here and talk about Mariners’ baseball. This season has been put on hold due to a minor pandemic but, hey, what can you do? Okay, it’s a major pandemic. I hope everyone is safe and healthy.
With that out of the way, it appears that Major League Baseball is attempting to get the season underway. On May 5th, Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic broke the news that the Cleveland Indians are one of several ball clubs telling their players to get ready to start playing baseball, even though a specific date has not been set. The plan would include around a 100-game season starting in July preceded by a shortened (resumed?) Spring Training in June. While this plan seems cautiously optimistic, I speculate most games this season would be without any fans in attendance.
The Seattle Mariners started out the Spring touting some of the best young talent in all of baseball. This past fall, the Mariners locked up their top first-baseman Evan White with a 6-year, $24 million—before even playing at a level above double-A.
The Mariners have signed first baseman Evan White to a six-year Major League contract.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) November 25, 2019
Other top prospects in the Mariners’ pipeline include Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Logan Gilbert, Justin Dunn, Jake Fraley, Justus Sheffield, and Kyle Lewis—all who were putting in work at Spring Training before the shutdown of Major League Baseball.
Now, if the season were to have started on time, here is what (I believe would have been) the projected roster:
Catcher: Tom Murphy
First Base: Evan White
Second Base: Shed Long
Third Base: Kyle Seager
Short Stop: J.P. Crawford
Outfield: Kyle Lewis, Mallex Smith, and Jake Fraley
Designated Hitter: Daniel Vogelbach
Bench: Austin Nola, Dee Gordon, Braden Bishop, Donovan Walton, and Patrick Wisdom.
Unfortunately for the outfield, Mitch Haniger is still reeling from his surgery and, back in March, was out “indefinitely.” This leaves 26-year old Mallex Smith as the only non-rookie veteran of the outfield for the Mariners.
What about most of those prospects I mentioned earlier? While talented, they will likely start at the Double-A level. They did not impress this Spring and have not developed into the MLB caliber players they will eventually grow into. However, come time for the “September” call-ups, I would expect to see these guys out there. I put September in quotes because who really knows the actual timeline for this season.
Knowing, presumably, what the roster looks like, I still believe the Mariners are no longer rebuilding, but attempting to gain experience. So, in a sense, you could call it rebuilding but I would just call it time in the Bigs. That’s what this young team needs right now is to gain that Major League level experience in order to get comfortable, work out the flaws, and hone their skills.
I do believe pitching is an issue in Seattle. The Mariners have some quality starters, but I still look at relief pitching and know teams will exploit the lack thereof. In 2019, the Mariners ranked 27th overall in relief pitching. Relievers combined for a 4.77 ERA, according to Fangraphs. The AL West has been dominated by the Houston Astros and partially by the Oakland Athletics. Since the Los Angeles Angels landed a new, winning manager in Joe Maddon as well as All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon, I would expect the Angels to give the Stros and A’s a run for their money. As I mentioned about Seattle’s pitching, I do not expect too great of a season and would hope they finish above the Texas Rangers at 4th place. I’m speaking realistically, but of course I would like to see the Mariners win 100 games and head to the playoffs. I don’t see that happening.
And it looks like quite a few people are in agreement. After taking a sample of odds from some of the online betting sites at sportsbettingdime.com, the best odds being given right now for the Mariners to win the AL West is 100 to 1. By no means are those the worst odds to win a division out there (for example, the Baltimore Orioles are 250 to 1 to win the AL East), but the Mariners unquestionably have some catching up to do.
Regardless how this plays out, I like the direction the Mariners are headed. I believe if they invest in quality pitching, they will be the strongest team in the AL.